This week was a roller coaster for the Ottawa Senators and their fans. After months of fighting for a playoff spot, the team finally punched their ticket to the post-season, moving on to face the Montreal Canadiens. But a tragic loss and a controversial game would quickly changed the mood in and out of the dressing room.
1) Mark Reeds
On Tuesday, Ottawa Senators assistant coach Mark Reeds passed away at the age of 55. Reeds was undergoing a battle with cancer, which came to an unfortunate end this week.
Reeds joined the Senators organization in 2011 as part of Paul MacLean's coaching staff. He was respected and loved by those around him, judging by the outpouring of grief from players, co-workers and friends. His loss has been tough on the Senators organization, especially the players. Watching their media scrums earlier this week was heartbreaking. Clearly, he left a lasting impression on those around him.
As the Senators and Canadiens kicked off the first game of their playoff series on Wednesday night, the Canadiens organization honoured Reeds with a moment of silence before the game. This was a wonderful gesture, showing that some things are stronger than rivalries.
In his final meeting with the team, Mark Reeds urged the players to win it all, sparking the best tagline this team has ever rallied around: #LetsWinItAll.
2) Game 1
Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs began on Wednesday night as the Sens and Habs faced off for the second time in the past three seasons. We don't need to go into too much detail about the results at this point. If you haven't already, check out our recap for more detailed coverage.
Going into the first game of the series, it felt like this was a huge opportunity for Ottawa. Before the puck even dropped the Hab's top scorer, Max Pacioretty, was out. And about halfway through the game, so was their top defenceman, P.K. Subban.
Many felt that this game was a missed opportunity for the Sens, and it sure seems that way. But it's important to remember that this game is just that, one game. One game in a seven-game series. There is a lot of hockey left to play. What matters now is how Ottawa reacts to the loss. Will they come back stronger, learning from their mistakes in the first game? Let's hope so!
3) Mark Stone Injury
At this point, I'm sure you've all read/heard enough about the slash. Want to watch it again? Be my guest. The result of the slash (as I will call it from now on) was an injury to one of our best players. Mark Stone suffered a microfracture on his wrist, and is questionable (obviously) for tonight's game.
While the team has not confirmed whether or not he will play tonight, it's not looking good. So what happens if he can't play (besides nation-wide panic)? Well, for starters: It means the loss of one of our best players; it means the loss of our top-line winger; Oh, and it means the loss of one of the league's best players in the last half of the season. That's all.
During practice yesterday, Milan Michalek took Stone's place on the Turris-MacArthur line. If Michalek plays the way he did during the late-season run, this could be a promising line.
The loss of Stone also means another player change...
4) Chris Neil Returning?
Half of you just looked away in fear. The other half dusted off your Neil jerseys and knocked out your two front teeth. If you are in the first group, take comfort in knowing that Neil's return is not confirmed yet. The team will make the final line-up decision tomorrow afternoon, and we will know for sure by then.
It's hard to imagine any other (quick) solution to Stone's absence. The team will need a right winger. With some line adjustments, Neil could fit nicely onto the fourth line. In the interest of sending a message to the Habs, a more physical presence in game 2 wouldn't hurt. So long as Neil focuses on a clean and legal physical presence.
Given how much trouble the Habs' fourth line caused for the Sens, adding another match-up option wouldn't hurt at this point.
5) Something Positive
Going into the weekend, we need something to feel good about. Is it the fact that it's game day? No, I don't think so. Is it the fact that it's Friday? No, it's not that either.
Is it the fact that not only is Anne Murray a Sens fan, but that she publicly voiced her concern regarding the slash?? Bingo!
Side note: Anne may have since taken the tweet down, but her love for the Sens remains:
Gotta ❤️the fight in those Sens! @Senators— Anne Murray (@annemurray1) April 8, 2015
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the game! Thanks for reading!